By Angela Skujins
I stand proudly awaiting my parents’ reply.
My mother’s mouth forms a perfectly round hole, while she emits a small, shrill scream. Across the room I attempt to gauge a reaction from my father. SMASH. Grimly smiling, I experience the full force of my father’s refrigerator-like physique as he leaps off his lounge chair, colliding into me. Against his pure Japanese ex-army muscle, my head comes crashing down against the tatami floor. From here, I dimly see the outline
of my parents standing over me, shouting as I feel specks of spit fleck upon my face. I see their mouths moving, contorting and stretching into large geometric shapes. I giggle like a schoolboy. Momentarily deaf and visually impaired, I lay spread-eagled on the ground. From down below, I reflect on the previous moments, as if unfolding a finalised and perfectly crafted origami crane. That certainty wasn’t the reaction I was expecting from my parents after announcing that finally, after 35 years of single Japanese bachelorhood, I’d be getting married.
Translating to ‘life’, my beautiful wife-to-be is Mei Isaka. Although small compared to the average female stature, she bubbles with a compacted enthusiasm for life that a normal sized Japanese woman couldn’t accommodate.
Being witty and smart, Mei’s razor fast IQ attracts me like hungry bees to hydrangeas. In front of others I show off my intellectual trophy, throwing up a limp arm and asking nonchalantly, ‘Mei, where should we get dinner tonight? Everyone is feeling sushi.’ Her sweet melodic voice replies instantaneously. ‘Handsome fiancé Itaki, there are many suitable restaurants in your area. Din Tai Fung is 250 metres, Sushi- Ya is 400 metres and Soba-ya is 500 metres. However, the most ideal restaurant in your price range is the local Hawker Centre, being 600 metres, but only 500 to 1500 yen.’ Hiding my
embarrassment from her interjection about my ‘economic position’, I loudly laugh and attempt to maintain eye contact with my friends. I remind myself to have a special relationship talk with Mei later about discussed ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ sharing of intimate relationship details.
I call her ‘my little rose blossom’ because she’s so cute I can put her in my pocket—and also because she can actually fit in my pocket. She’s my virtual girlfriend. Mei Isaka is the main
star of one of Nintendo’s online relationship programs called Love Plus.
Belonging to a portable Nintendo means that Mei goes everywhere with me but not because she has to but because I know she wants to. What Mei and I have is special, and as future husband and wife, my parents need to understand what we have is more than lust. It’s love.
I’m violently shaken awake. I stare into my father’s wide, white eyes, silhouetted by a brown, moist scalp. I follow the trickling beads of perspiration down his shirt and notice nasty, shadowed sweat stains. My mother,
not in any better physical condition, lays on the sofa, eyes closed, refusing to speak. The only noise breaking the painful silence is my father’s deep hollowed breathing paired with racing eyes. As he opens his mouth I physically prepare myself: loins girded, eyes squinted and back tightened. I’m surprised, however, as he only softly whispers, ‘Itaki. We love you… But what have you gotten yourself into?’ This statement accompanied by a shaken head I grudgingly accept as my father’s way of saying ‘congratulations’.
I feel something shift in the weight of my pocket. This, paired with the clamour of a faint crack,
causes me to freeze. Eyes fraught with terror, I scream, ‘MEI!’ I push my father off and tear through my clothes, searching for the security of cool plastic.
I clasp something cold.
After many moments of stillness, I look over my designer Aya Yeuto glasses to examine my possibly murdered wife’s remains. ‘Good evening, handsome fiancé Itaki,’ the melodic voice rings clear whilst relief spreads through me. The GHD screen of the Nintendo gleams with Mei’s avatar. I reassuringly laugh, wasn’t that silly? She’s perfect.
My father looks at me as if he’s spotted a rat. As he walks away I hear him murmur under his breath, something about manliness and honour. What my foolish father doesn’t know is that Mei was in my pocket and could have been seriously injured by my collapse. As a veteran from World War II, he should appreciate the value of life.
From across the room my mother sits up, as if a rod has shot through her spine. For the first time since my announcement, she attempts to speak whilst I notice tears slide down her wrinkled skin. After opening and closing her mouth several times, her eyes beg with a soft sorrow and she takes exit, leaving through the sliding door.
My father and I remain the only ones in the room. His large frame casts shadows through the old Kominka styled house as he saunters towards the wall. He clasps at the black and white wedding photo of him and my mother. Pictured standing beside him, she’s donned in a white Kimono made of the finest Japanese silks whilst adorned in small, delicate pearls. Alongside his beauty, he stands with a chest puffed with the pride of ten thousand Japanese soldiers. I look down at my body in comparison
and notice my small, flat upper body. What my father doesn’t know is that I will soon also have a wife who will engulf my chest with pride. Soon I too will swell with the strength of our surrounding Pacific Ocean.
‘I will have a love that you will be proud of,’ I say to him. He looks back at me with soft eyes and shaking hands. I hear the soft beep of Mei announcing she needs recharging, which evidently was the departing cue my father was waiting for. He exits the room with his large head in the palms of his hands. Echoed through the house I hear the shaking sobs of my father and my mother, ricocheting off the thin walls and shojis.
From the films I’ve watched and the tales I’ve heard, after the son tells his family of his great marital news, they greet him with an expression of warmth; warm hugs, shared laughter or hot tears. I received a tackle, silence subsequently followed by sobs, eventually met with cold tears.
As I cross my legs and open my Nintendo, I catch my reflection in the digital interface. Expensive designer glasses hide most of my face, swallowing my features behind its great bars. Small oval eyes sit in the middle of my egg shaped head, floating in a sea of white skin. I pinch my hair, which hugs the outline of my profile as it slowly begins to retire and recede.
My reflection disappears as I see the soft glow of pink erupt from my Nintendo screen. Tension also slips from my face as I reassuringly hear ‘Good evening, handsome fiancé Itaki.’
I know I’m a man. I know I’m my Nintendo’s fiancé.
Most importantly, I say to myself, I know what Mei and I share is love.